Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, the largest Catholic Charities in the country, today celebrates its 100th birthday and “A Century of Hope,” along with its nearly 3,000 employees in Cook and Lake Counties.
For 100 years Catholic Charities has been serving anyone in need. The agency was founded just days after the country entered World War 1, at a time when women were left caring for their families and children were left orphaned following the flu epidemic. Cardinal Mundelein called together a group of prominent business men to be the fundraising arm of the Church. It quickly evolved to provide direct social services to those most in need.
The agency that began in the once gritty intersection of DesPlaines and Randolph has evolved to have more than 150 locations across the Archdiocese, in the most vulnerable and under-served communities. Nearly 1 million people turn to Catholic Charities each year for help and support.
“It’s remarkable to me that every 30 seconds someone turns to Catholic Charities in their most trying times. Throughout the century we have consistently evolved to meet the most pressing needs,” said Monsignor Michael Boland, President of Catholic Charities. “Today 15,000 volunteers and more than 400 community partners including parishes help us fulfill our mission of providing compassionate care to anyone in need.”
Catholic Charities services span a wide range, including housing, food, emergency assistance, counseling, veteran’s needs, senior services and support, child development, immigration and refugee support, youth mentoring, and more.
The agency was a pioneer in social services, leading the way in providing a holistic approach to an individual and family in need. The agency led the way in many innovative social service programs and partnerships, including the first to partner with Cook County to treat a DUI offense as a medical condition; partnering with the VA and HUD to open the first permanent supportive housing for veterans, the St. Leo Campus; and the federal government turned to Catholic Charities to develop the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) food centers in food desert communities, the first of its kind in the nation.
From April 2017 – April 2018 the agency will celebrate this anniversary milestone with a variety of special events. On May 7 Cardinal Blase Cupich will hold a Mass of Thanksgiving at Holy Name Cathedral to celebrate the 100th Anniversary, with Monsignor Boland, Bishop Raymond Geodert, Bishop Joseph Perry, and other priests of the Archdiocese. The Homilist is Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Papal Nuncio to the United States. On June 12 the Cardinal Cupich and Monsignor Boland will host a Civic Dinner at the Hilton Chicago.
Other events will be held throughout the year, including a fall symposium, “Building Peaceful Communities,” and a spring volunteer week. For details on 100th Anniversary celebrations, visit www.ccofchicago100.net.
Commenting on the agency’s future, Monsignor Boland added, “There is a tremendous need for agency’s like Catholic Charities, who are nimble and efficient, and also provide compassionate care. At all times our staff treats each person who comes to us with respect and dignity, with an ultimate goal of helping them become as self-sufficient as possible. This year we celebrate ‘A Century of Hope’ and reaffirm our commitment to the next century of providing help and hope to all of those need us most.”